One woman’s journey after she learned The Cosby Show was based on her family in the 1980s.
By Ann-Marie Adams, Ph.D. | @annmarieadams
What if I told you that The Cosby Show was partly based on me and my family? You would probably not believe it. But it is true.
That’s the conclusion after a seven-year investigation by private investigators and government officials, who want to remain anonymous. Providence guided us during this lengthy investigation, while I was being prepped in 2014 to run for Congress against former Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.
This fortuitous story began when former President Ronald Reagan visited Jamaica on April 7, 1982. I am aware that during that one-day visit, Reagan’s security detail reportedly made contact with me and my family. My father was a electrical engineer while working at the Government Printing Office. He owned a home in a suburb of Kingston. And my mother worked with a transportation company.
In Jamaica, we were a middle-class family Reagan’s cabinet allegedly felt they should watch. After Regan’s visit, several individuals made plans to put a family sitcom together and it was called The Cosby Show, according to sources close to the U.S. federal, state and local government. The show aired on NBC from 1984 to 1992.
Bill Cosby first pitched the show about a working-class Honduran family. My father’s ancestors are from Honduras. We had a wonderful life that included Sunday dinners and picnics in the park; but we weren’t immune to obstacles. Although The Cosby Show was mainly focused on Cosby’s observations of family life, some of those observations were of my family, I’m told.
Cosby also stated in previous interviews the original conceptualization of the show: a working-class family that raised a successful child. (side note: Cosby’s wife suggested the show be based on a well-to do family). The original premise and casting choices for the sitcom, however, reaffirmed the initial concept in the pitch that was identical to my family and me.
So I’m telling my story.
Several scenes were points of recognition in my family’s life in Jamaica and the U.S. I also learned during the investigation that the casting directors and writers had our family in mind when they cast the characters. There are frighteningly similar traits in my family and the characters on the show. And a picture of The Cosby Show family and my family bear a striking resemblance. For example, Denise Huxtable has similar traits to me. Theo is based on my brother, Errol. Vanessa is based on my sister, Andrea. Rudy is based on my niece Janel. And Olivia is based on my other niece, Franchista.
Other similarities include Sondra who shares traits with my cousin Carleen. Elvin is based on my brother Lloyd. And Aunt Vi is based on my cousin, Doreen, Lt. Martin Kindall, Denise’s husband is based on my cousin, Raymond. And of course, Claire Huxtable is based on my mother and older sister, Marcia. The patriarch of the television family, Cliff Huxtable has similar traits as my father–who with a stern hand gave sage advice to his children: “Can’t? What’s that? There’s no such thing as can’t,” he would say.
In addition to those facts, several scenes were premised off the interpersonal dynamics of the relationships between me and my sisters, brothers and cousins. This was too much of a coincidence to those who were investigating us during the recent investigation and prep for Congress. The public must know that The Cosby Show itself is a creation by several actors, comediennes, writers and producers who are unfamiliar with our family, except a few undisclosed individuals. So the very idea that it was based on another family such as mine was plausible.
Why we were picked for this social experiment will perhaps remain a secret to Reagan, his staff and others. The United States Secret Service has disallowed open documentation of Reagan’s visit to Jamaica in 1982. But one thing was clear. After this revelation to me while I was covering the Obama White House, my family and I were the victim of a hate crime.
This insidious plot to strip us of our resources as a middle-class family, hide our true identities and our impact on the show must be addressed. The Bill Cosby trial in Philadelphia was perhaps divine justice when he was indicted on a day close to my father’s birthday. Also, Cosby failed to acknowledge our contributions to the show and as a result, his new family comedy slated for 2015 was canceled. We are owed more than an apology.
We are asking for the perpetrators of this crime to be held accountable for the evil and covert attack on our family to cover up this truth in the country.
Enough is enough. We want restorative justice.
Dr. Ann-Marie Adams is an award-winning journalist and U.S. History Professor. She is also the founder of The Hartford Guardian. Previously, she was a journalist at The Hartford Courant, People Magazine, NBC4 New York, the Washington Post and other regional publications.